Triplets are rare and getting rarer. Usually female polar bears will have 1-2 cubs every three years.
Polar bears roam the land in Wapusk National Park during the fall, waiting for the sea ice to freeze.
When the ice freezes, it pushes against itself to form pressure ridges. These ridges can be very large with huge blocks of ice stacked on top of each other. Polar bears often follow pressure ridges as seals make lairs underneath them.
From a helicopter, scientists watch for spots of red on the white ice, indicating that a polar bear has killed and eaten a seal. We investigate how these kill sites provide more information than just a polar bear's last meal. [See: Polar bear hunting behaviour reveals broad scale distribution of ringed seal lairs]
Sizing up the Competition
In the fall male polar bears often spar, or play-fight to gauge their own size and strength to be better prepared for the spring, when they will be fighting for mates. But how does this intraspecific aggression play out across the large home ranges polar bears occupy? [See: Are polar bears egalitarian?]
Satellite collars can tell us when and where polar bears are year-round, something that would be impossible otherwise.
Monitoring Population Health
Each spring scientists try to evaluate how many new cubs are in the population and how healthy they are. This gives us great insight into how well the population is doing. If cub production and survival drops, the population may be in some trouble.
We are a group of students at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, studying under Dr. Andy Derocher. We are passionate about communicating good polar bear science and would love for you to visit our site to learn more about the world's largest terrestrial carnivore.